Organizational development expert Edgar Schein describes organizational culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. In fact, corporate culture is reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them.
Executives today are focusing on corporate culture because there a need for a strong corporate culture to accomplish sustainable competitiveness in global markets. While each culture is specific to the organization, successful corporate culture usually share aspects of collaboration, trust and learning.
These three cultural aspects play a critical role in improving innovation and enhancing the effectiveness of organizational knowledge management. For example, collaboration provides a shared understanding about the current issues and problems among employees, which helps to generate new ideas within organizations. Trust towards their leader’s decisions is also a necessary precursor to create new knowledge. The amount of time spent learning is positively related with the amount of knowledge gained, shared and implemented.
Building Collaboration in Your Culture
To build collaboration as an aspect of the organizational culture, executives need to improve the degree to which employees actively support and provide significant contributions to each other in their work. In doing this, executives can develop a collaborative work climate in which:
- Employees are satisfied by the degree of collaboration between departments
- Employees are supportive.
- Employees are helpful.
- There is a willingness to accept responsibility for failure.
Creating Trust Within Your Culture
To create trust within the corporate culture, executives need to maintain the volume of reciprocal faith in terms of behaviors and intentions. In doing this, executives can build an atmosphere of trust and openness in which:
- Employees are generally trustworthy.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in other members' intentions and behaviours.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in others' ability.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in others' behaviours to work toward organisational goals.
- Employees have reciprocal faith in others' decision towards organisational interests than individual interests.
- Employees have relationships based on reciprocal faith.
Cultivating Learning in a Culture
To foster more learning within the culture, executives need to enhance the extent to which learning is motivated within the workplace. In doing this, executives can contribute to the development of a learning workplace in which:
- Various formal training programs are provided to improve the performance of duties.
- Opportunities are provided for informal individual development other than formal training such as work assignments and job rotation.
- There is an encouragement to attend external seminars, symposia, etc.
- Various social mechanisms such as clubs and community gatherings are provided.
- Employees are satisfied by the contents of job training or self-development programs.
Success in today’s global business environment can be more effective when executives can manifest themselves as change agents who shape and guide corporate culture to better apply knowledge and create competitive advantage. Building on the three aspects of corporate culture (collaboration, trust and learning), companies can attempt to continuously innovate and create new and valuable services or products through applying new ideas and knowledge.